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Dealer dispute holds up Audi auction

A dispute between a Cumbrian dealer and Audi UK led to delays and the last minute withdrawal of the carmaker’s own stock at its auction at BCA Belle Vue in Manchester a week ago.

Harper & Hebson of Carlisle wanted to be allowed into the brand’s invitation-only sale, as it has been since its Audi sales franchise was terminated in March 2004. The £30m turnover group remains an Audi approved repairer, as well as a VW and Seat franchised dealer.

AM understands that earlier this month, Audi withdrew the group’s invitation. The auction eventually started after a 30-minute delay while Ken Harper and his solicitor demanded to be allowed to bid. Audi then withdrew the cars, leaving 192 units of ex-dealer and contract-hire stock to be sold.

Harper claims that Audi UK has intervened to stop him selling nearly-new cars in competition to Carlisle’s new Audi site.

“They are trying everything they can to stop me selling Audis in Carlisle,” he says. “Other retailers I know get invitations but they’re not even partners with Volkswagen Group.”

Harper admits sourcing new Audis from “three or four” dealers. Block Exemption bans dealers from supplying new cars to third parties for resale, however.

In a statement, Audi says it will continue to give franchised dealers priority in its private used car auctions.

“We will ensure that our centres comply with their dealer agreements in the handling and sale of our new cars throughout the UK network,” it adds.

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